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NFL Scouts Talk Anonymously About NFC North Teams

Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy

Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy

The Green Bay Packers may be as close to a lock at winning the NFC North as you can get, as long as Aaron Rodgers is able to stay healthy. The Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings have both made improvements to their roster from last season, and either one of them could make the playoffs if they can put everything together. On the other hand, the Chicago Bears don't seem as if they'll have any chance at contending in the foreseeable future, as they went all in to get two quarterbacks this offseason (Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky) but avoided filling holes in other places on their depth chart.

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In order to get an accurate assessment of how the four NFC North teams are shaping up heading into the 2017 season, Athlon asked NFL scouts to talk anonymously about the Bears, Lions, Packers and Vikings.

Note: These scouting reports come directly from NFL scouts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff. 

Chicago Bears

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“Mike Glennon is a classic pocket passer with a big arm, and people tend to overlook his 30-to-15 career touchdown-to-interception ratio.”

“GM Ryan Pace shocked the NFL and maybe his own coach John Fox when he traded up to No. 2 in the draft and took Mitch Trubisky.”

“You can’t fault them for trying to fix the position, but you can critique Trubisky as a one-year starter who did not exude much personality in his interviews and visits.”

“With this dramatic move, Fox will have to manage two parallel tracks — one for Glennon, the presumptive starter in 2017, and one for Trubisky, the quarterback of the future.”

“Running back Jordan Howard was a bright spot when he rushed for over 1,300 yards and six touchdowns as a rookie.

“Wide receiver Kevin White has played four games in two seasons — this is a prove-it year for him.”

“Cameron Meredith led the team with 66 receptions, and when Alshon Jeffery signed with the Eagles, he was penciled in as a starter.”

“Tight end Zach Miller has struggled staying healthy, so they took a shot on Ashland phenom Adam Shaheen in the second round.”

“Center Cody Whitehair looks like a mainstay in the middle of their line, and last year’s No. 1 choice, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, racked up seven sacks in 12 games.”

“Chicago was tied for dead last at minus-20 in the turnover margin, so taking care of the football will be a major priority for Glennon and Co.”

Detroit Lions

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“The Lions reached 9–4 in December only to lose their last five games and meekly go out of the playoffs at Seattle.”

“Matthew Stafford has rare arm strength but is finally ‘playing’ the position.”

“Running back Theo Riddick topped the team with 357 rushing yards, so getting Ameer Abdullah back to full health will be important to their offense.”

“Tight end Eric Ebron caught over 60 passes, so maybe he has turned the corner as a pro. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones proved to be dependable targets for Stafford and solid free agent signings.”

“GM Bob Quinn got good mileage out of his rookie linemen, Taylor Decker at left tackle and Graham Glasgow at center and left guard. This year, they addressed the right side of the offensive line by signing T.J. Lang (Packers) and Ricky Wagner (Ravens) during free agency.”

“On defense, they need a healthy Ziggy Ansah, who hobbled through 13 games with a high ankle sprain.”

“Defensive end Kerry Hyder surprised with eight sacks as a rotational pass rusher, and they are hoping first-round linebacker Jarrad Davis from Florida can shore up that position. He is a run-and-hit defender with excellent speed. Tahir Whitehead is not well-known, but he plays fast and collected 132 total tackles last season.”

“Cornerback Darius Slay is a talented cover man, but they are taking a flyer on D.J. Hayden (Raiders), who has only had one healthy season in four years.”

“Strong safety Tavon Wilson followed Quinn to Detroit and impressed with 89 tackles alongside Glover Quin, who has started 16 games for seven seasons in a row.”

Green Bay Packers

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“Aaron Rodgers was simply stunning last year. He makes it look easy in gliding from the pocket and making throws on the move. As long as he is on the field, they are clearly the class of the NFC North.”

“Ty Montgomery converted from receiver to running back, but even going back to his days at Stanford, he had a running back build and was always a physical returner. I think BYU’s Jamaal Williams will have a great chance to contribute as a rookie. He is an instinctive runner between the tackles.”

“When talks with tight end Jared Cook broke down, GM Ted Thompson signed Martellus Bennett from the Patriots.”

“Jordy Nelson returned to form. He was really good. Davante Adams responded with 75 receptions. That’s two really nice targets for Rodgers.”

“The line is anchored quietly by two underrated players, left tackle David Bakhtiari and center Corey Linsley, but T.J. Lang and JC Tretter left in free agency.”

“Defensive end Mike Daniels is undervalued outside their building, but internally, they have high regard for him.”

“Outside linebacker Nick Perry played in 14 games and had 11 sacks.”

“Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez are only adequate at the inside linebacker posts.”

“At the corner spots, they signed Davon House (Jaguars) and drafted Kevin King from Washington in the second round, so they really want to push Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter.”

“Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix make for a nice combination of safeties.”

“It’s almost automatic to assume this team makes the playoffs. But unless injuries hit, anything less than the NFC Championship Game would be a disappointment.”

Minnesota Vikings

NFL Power Rankings: Vikings

“In a shocking instant, all the positive vibes surrounding the Vikings crumpled to the ground with Teddy Bridgewater as he suffered a severe left knee injury during a non-contact drill that jeopardizes his return in 2017 and maybe his long-term career.”

“Sam Bradford was exceedingly efficient with 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions, but he has some Alex Smith to him in that he is very risk averse.”

“They parted ways with Adrian Peterson at running back and could be better with Latavius Murray (Raiders) and rookie Dalvin Cook, their second-round pick from Florida State. Murray is a hammer inside, and Cook can vanish with the football in his hands.”

“Stefon Diggs is a speed merchant outside, and Adam Thielen emerged as a steady target for Bradford.”

“All Kyle Rudolph does is show up and perform at a consistent level.”

“The offensive line was a mess last year, and left tackle Matt Kalil signed with Carolina. The Vikings added both Riley Reiff (Lions) and Mike Remmers (Panthers) to be their bookend tackles.”

“Everson Griffen had eight sacks last year, but Danielle Hunter, in a specialized role, accounted for 12.5 sacks and should take over the other end spot very soon.”

“Chad Greenway retired, but Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr were already full-time players anyway.”

“Terence Newman seems ageless and still plays better than Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes.”

“Harrison Smith is a Pro Bowl player."

“If the offensive line jells, maybe they can return to the playoffs. Otherwise, the Bradford/Bridgewater questions for 2018 will envelop the organization all season long.”